pixabay | skalekar1992

Teacher Warms Hearts After Styling Girl's Hair: 'We Need More Black Teachers'

There are many ways that life in North America and Europe can be different when you're Black, but one aspect that often goes under the radar concerns how a person's hair is treated.

For instance, Black workers and students have long reported that their natural hairstyles have gotten them in trouble at work and school because they're commonly perceived as "unprofessional" or "dirty."

Another issue concerns how many fashion and marketing brands clearly don't employ stylists who know how to work with Black hairstyles, leaving models with more unflattering looks than they would otherwise have unless they fix them on their own.

And while these issues can provide a great deal of context for one uplifting story of a teacher who cares, she shared it to impart another message with similar relevance to her community.

On October 1, 12-year-old Purity Agyeman came to her teacher with a problem.

As that teacher — Vanessa Sefa of The Archbishop Lanfranc Academy in London, England — told Good Morning America, Agyeman was agitated when she came to school because the heavy rainfall and the friction from the hood of her raincoat shrunk her hair, causing tangles.

As Sefa put it, "With tears in her eyes, she expressed that she wasn't going to go around school like this all day and would rather go home."

Since Agyeman's mother had passed away when she was nine years old, she admitted that what she knew about hair care was mostly self-taught.

pixabay | skalekar1992

And while she often seemed confident in her look, this run of bad luck shook that. As Sefa saw it, this was both due to how concerned teens often are with their appearance and due to what she described as a "hyperawareness" of how black hair is often perceived.

In her words, "Even if I thought she looked fine, I wasn't going to turn her away, pat her on the back and tell her she looked fine when her self-confidence was temporarily fragile."

So even though Sefa only had 15 minutes and a small-toothed comb, she got to work braiding Agyeman's hair.

According to Good Morning America, she used her nails to help make the center part tighter and untangled her student's hair by hand before putting it into two cornrows.

As she wrote in her initial tweet about the situation, "Being black & that age, hair can mean so much. This is one of the many reasons we need more Black teachers."

Since less than 3% of the United Kingdom's teachers are Black, that's a particularly relevant message over there.

And it seems the job Sefa did was very much appreciated, as Agyeman smiled and gave her a hug after she was done. She also said that the girl's father Prince Agyeman extended his own thanks once he heard what Sefa had done.

Later that day, Agyeman could also be heard saying, "I was happy because my hair wasn't in a mess anymore."

h/t: Good Morning America

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